HOLY SHIT! JAPAN TOUR DIARY – DAY 8
We said goodbye to Shyboy and The Crump the night before by visiting an all night udon place after the show. We were told it would be a very short stop, so we all tried to order as fast as we could. I guess there was a toll that was cheaper if we went through it by midnight, and Yoichi was determined to hit it. Tabman and I sat side by side at our table, and when the appetizers came, he was up in my grill trying to get me to eat squid. His face lit up when I denied him and he kept trying. “Teebs, I’ve had squid, I don’t like it.” I sneered at his attempts and I could tell he liked goading me on. The udon noodle bowls came steaming hot and we tried to eat as fast as we could but the broth still felt like the sun’s angry piss. Five minutes after we were served, I noticed Yoichi and Your Pest Band were already putting their shoes on to leave. Tabman and I had just barely started, how could they have eaten something so certainly molten so quick? We both complained aloud and got ready to leave, saying sayonara to all of our new friends and then rushing out to leave.
I awoke to a smiling Yoichi that told me that there was food down on the second floor. I had slept three good hours and felt pretty decent. Andy got up as well stating that he couldn’t get to sleep. I gingerly walked downstairs to a small long table with quite a spread on it. Two different kinds of rice, bacon wrapped mushrooms, fish, stuffed mushrooms, breaded chicken, green tea, and some delicious miso soup that I tried for the first time. The paste that makes up this traditional Japanese soup base is mostly derived from assorted fish, kelp, or mushrooms. Depending on the region and the chef, the ingredients vary and could become a pleasant or terrible surprise. Especially for a traveler. I liked this one. Andy and I took turns trying each dish, except for the fish which we both agreed looked unappetizing. Yoichi was flipping through the TV channels trying to find something to please him and settled on a rather dry news show. Conversely, a great amount of television shows in Japan are nutty and the commercials are even crazier! Even so, that drab news show had a couple of advertisements that made us all chuckle with unexpected and crazy premises. Andy pushed some onion filled items he tried in my direction. Onions and Andy don’t get along, and he knows I am all about ’em. I’ve told him before: We are a modern day version of Jack Sprat and his wife. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Look it up, Einstein, you’re on the fucking interwebz!
Everyone was counted awake when Eric and Tabman rose. They both said it was too hot and stuffy in the loft and attacked what was left to eat on the table. I plugged my Nintendo DS in to charge and thought about a shower, but before I could even speak, Tabman jumped into the bathroom to shower followed immediately by Eric. (No, they didn’t go in together, though I’m sure deep down they wanted to.) Having the living room to myself, I grabbed the remote and switched the TV until I bumped into the weirdest thing I saw. It ended up being a game show of sorts where a panel of six had to vote on which of three different men actually knew the regal looking woman that silently sat in a chair in the middle of the stage. They each had stories that they told about her to the crowd and the panel. There was an older man with a cane and hat that rambled, a young portly looking business type that spoke to the point, and a poorly dressed looking ruffian with boisterous charm. The crowd laughed and gasped as that misfit talked some seemingly outlandish and unrealistic things. When it came time to vote, the panel decided unanimously against the possibility of someone like him knowing her. But of course – hold the phone! The reveal presented that the bubbly scrub was the one that actually knew her – what with being her son and all. The place was stunned. Great dupe!
When the shower opened up from the other two, I had about 7 minutes to do what I do and I did. Man, it felt good to actually get back to back stabs at bathing. We all gathered our shit yet again and headed downstairs to where I met Ryo’s mom who excitedly took my picture and then one more with all of us gathered together. We stuffed into the van and took off to our next destination. Class, can anyone guess where that might have been? Ah, good! You’ve been paying attention. Yes, the Asahi brewery in Osaka was the terminus and I marveled at the good news. We parked in a gravel lot and we got out to start walking. I didn’t see the brewery anywhere, but they said we were walking a bit to get there, so that made sense. We all started on our way pairing off into groups determined on walking speed. I kept with the group for ten minutes but my back was starting to tighten, so I slowed down and stretched while cursing the shape I was in. After twenty minutes, I was a half mile or more behind the group and my back was totally dominating me. Tabman waited for me on a bridge we had to cross, and we both crossly wondered why this walk was so fucking long. He walked on ahead of me as I tried to stretch the knot out of my back for a minute or two. My pride was hurt and I was embarrassed about my shape. God, I can’t even walk for a fucking half hour? Why is my back being such a tight bitch? Why are we walking over a half hour to this place anyways? Alright, just keep going. Don’t be sour, I just have to work at this. I walked for another five minutes and finally arrived at the brewery entrance where Maru stood. I smiled at him and laughed, both at my situation and the tag around his neck: He got picked to be the designated driver again.
We entered the brewery and I sheepishly said hello and apologized for holding up the group. Eric said that the rest of the group was in the movie room watching the intro movie anyways and we would join them for the tour. I felt a bit better for none of us wanted to see that stupid movie again anyway. This Osaka Asahi plant was constructed a bit different than the one in Fukoka, but we ended up going through the same motions as before. From the company mission statement and history to the final product in your home, we checked them off. The tasting room was a serene place with huge windows that allowed a great view of the wooded paradise outside. You would have never guessed we were in the city proper. When we visited the gift shop I thought about Maru’s poor luck with being picked as the designated driver for the third time and I wanted to buy him beer for some sort of karmic appreciation. I hit up Holy Shit! and got enough money to make it happen. Tabman became enamored with a large stuffed mascot shaped like an orange next to the Bireley’s soda display. He took such a liking to the little guy that he ponied up to buy it. Upon leaving the building, we all found out Maru had left early to go get the van to pick us up. Tabman and I let out a cheer and I felt giddy. I told Tboy that I wanted to pick him up and put him on my shoulders. He shook his head laughing and telling me that he was too big. He pointed at Satoru and told me to go get him. I whisked Satoru up onto my shoulders while screaming and we all laughed at once. We walked to the 7 and i Holdings across the street and I put my plan into place picking up exactly 3 tallboys of Asahi Extra Dry. When Maru pulled into the parking lot, I presented the beer saying that we were thankful for his driving and that there was one beer there for each time he got shafted. He gasped and smiled, thanking me. You deserve it, buddy!
It was time to eat. Yoichi sought out a fusion shish ke-bob tempura place in Osaka that he knew about, but upon finding it packed to the gills, we walked and found one that only had two people inside. This place looked like a northern Wisconsin corner bar, complete with bar stools, cheesy framed pictures and a TV on mute. This place was way better though, for 100 to 200 Yen you could acquire one of Osaka’s culinary delights: Meat, cheese, tofu, or vegetables stuck on a skewer, dipped in batter, and deep fried till it’s ready. We were each greeted with an appetizer plate of cabbage leaves that you were to dip in the soy sauce tubs that sat affixed to the bar. The Japanese then instructed us Americans that you absolutely do not double dip. Bad things will happen to you if you do. Your offspring will grow three heads. Or you’ll die in a freak farming accident. Choke on a hot dog. Get a paper cut and a hangnail. Become a guitarist. Just don’t fucking do it, I guess. Fair enough. We ordered many tasty fried goods and drank the tap Asahi beers. Life couldn’t get much more cozy right now.
The place for the show tonight was an all ages club called Free People, an all in one establishment that records music, holds rooms for practicing, and those same rooms double as show spaces. What a sweet idea. Immediately Eric scored a 500 Yen cymbal with no cracks or flaws in the bargain box. Eric and I then walked right next door to buy some whiskey for us and to look for an alcoholic present for Yoichi’s birthday tomorrow. I picked up a large bottle of Aquarius (Similar to Po’sweat) and we looked at the liquor selection. We laughed when we spotted a HUGE bottle of Nikka Whiskey that looked even bigger than a 1.75 in the States. This quickly became a must buy as we split the cost of it and left. We couldn’t figure out what to get Yoichi, but we still had tomorrow to shop. We commandeered a table in the rest area of Free People and I thunked the Nikka down as to add drama to its size. This thing was fucking awesome. Total excess. Ridiculous. Tabman was spending some time staring at a piece of paper trying to memorize the song ‘Enemies’ by Die Kreuzen. He was following along with his iPod and absently pacing. Ryo had asked him if he would join Tone Deaf while they played it and he agreed.
Some drinks in Osaka
Tonight marked the sixth piece of chicken, this time written in Kanji. Tboy also wrote ‘Six-Pack’ underneath the picture, adding a punk element to the cooked bird. The room the show was in was right next to the commons with my guesstimated capacity of forty people. It filled up nicely when Your Pest Band started the show off. I love the feeling when you really get into a new band and accomplish mapping all of their songs on your heart and mind. Your Pest Band was in that place for me now, and it made the set so enjoyable. They don’t miss notes or break intensity, they keep bringing it every night. We are among the lucky ones to tour with them. The second band of the night were comprised of four teenage kids, Manchester School. They were mind blowing. Tight erratic time signatures and searing energy were fulminating out of them. I got into it immediately, rocking out while never taking my eyes off of them. This is totally my kind of music and it was about time I saw some of it. They teleported me into an energetic mood.
While I was mixing my second drink in the lounge room, news came that Andy was in trouble with the police. What? Why? A moment later he walked in with his shirt on and he and Ryo told us the story. Apparently he had been walking around with his shirt off, which Andy is practically famous for, and entered a store that called the police on him. Hilarious! He added that the cops didn’t speak any English and he didn’t have his passport on him. Things were getting serious fast but luckily Ryo spotted what was going on and rescued him by talking to the police and telling him that he came to Japan to see Tone Deaf. Ryo explained to Andy that the situation would have turned bad if he conveyed to them that he was in a touring band. What a lucky break. So the hardcore four piece Tone Deaf started their set tight and furious. They ripped right through the first four songs and I could tell they were a local favorite. Nearly the whole room was dancing and singing along. They stopped and it was time for Tabman to come up and sing ‘Enemies.’ He grabbed the mic and said ‘guunyu and beeru’, which means ‘milk and beer’. Die Kreuzen’s first EP was called Cows and Beer, and it got some laughs from those in the know. They attacked the song and it was fun to see Tabman from the other side of the hardcore. He admitted later that he forgot some of the lyrics, but it didn’t matter a bit. He had help from the flock.
Tabman sings ‘Enemies’ with Tone Deaf
We were on last again here. Satoru handed me his bass and I went to work on the amp knobs. Since many bands usually use one set of equipment at shows here, the rules change. After a performance, it’s customary to zero all of the knobs so you can create your own sound. Well, I suck at this. It was also ten minutes to ten and this show was supposed to be over by then. Eric was huffing about hurrying up which locked me into choosing the best sound within a minutes time. That sound was terrible. The bass notes were flat and they had no sustain at all. When you play music with fast picking and they quickly die on the vine, the mistakes jump out like MC Hammer promoting Taco Bell. I tried to adjust it in between the few breaks we took, but nothing would fucking work. Ahhh! Near the end of the set I was so worked up and frustrated I started to vent into the mic – much to the multitudes amusement. “Who the fuck cares how we sound? Who cares about tuning? It doesn’t fucking matter! Nothing matters! I don’t give a shit about anything!” I was met with smiling screams of approval. I’m not sure they knew what I was saying. For the last song I pushed even harder against the entire situation and ended up stepping on my bass cable, cutting my sound completely. I checked it out briefly and then shrugged, stunned that I damaged Satoru’s bass but happy to be rid of the entire problem. I set the bass down and grabbed the other mic and started to help Tabman scream along with ‘I Hate Banks’. Soaking sweat, I pushed into the people while screaming the lyrics and fell to the floor rolling around. Some people scattered and others were slapping and kicking me in approval. They were loving it. We finished and the room erupted in gratitude. They forced us to play two more songs even without a working bass. We chose ‘We’re Poor, Fuck You’ and ‘Drink Tab, Drop Out’. Tabman and I lunged forward into the mob simultaneously, pushing into people and keeping the mic close. They pushed right back, rocking out. It didn’t matter what we did, what we played, or how we fucked up at that moment. It’s one of those rare instants where everything was right. Afterwords Satoru looked at the bass and laughed, pointing at the volume knob that was turned all the way down. What good news, I hadn’t broken it at all! LOL. ROTFL.
We decompressed out in the lounge area and Tabman and I both walked to the fast food chain Sukiya (sue-key-YUH) to get some Japanese fast food. The girl who helped me was totally my kind of girl. She was awkward and chubby and had glasses that kept slipping down her nose for her to push up. Oh man. She was gorgeous, and not in any conventional way. She didn’t know any English and I didn’t know how to order in Japanese, so we both giggled and did our best up until I started to walk back to Free People. Before we left, we traded compliments with the Manchester School kids and they wished us good luck. Tboy was driving tonight, so he offered his sleeping bag to me to lie on in the back. My hero. We said goodbye to Osaka as we embarked on the last long drive with the good old white van to the place of our last two shows: Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Hours on The Fucking Plane: 15
Approximate Hours of Sleep: 54
Shows Played: 6
Total # Of Different Bands: 25
Number of Crybed Sessions: 1
Number of Shits Taken: 3
Robo-Toilets Used: 0
Alcoholic Tours: 4
Chewing Tobacco Chewed: 0
Angry and Pissed-Off Count: 5
Pieces of Chicken Displayed: 18
Number of Times Bathed: 3